This summer, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Nuala Meyer as part of HUP's Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Division. The research I was involved with mainly focuses on patient conditions and outcomes of sepsis (a type of infection that gets into the bloodstream) in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU). The project seeks to identify risk factors on both the molecular and clinical levels in order to best treat this common, and often fatal disease.
My work focused on extracting patient data from medical records and inputting it into our research database to be analyzed for associations and risk factors. This served as a great introduction to clinical medicine for me as I became very familiar with how to read a patient chart, recognize various diseases, and understand assorted medication uses.
Further, I had the opportunity to work on a subset of the project that is looking at how patients' cognitive state in the MICU (and subsequently afterwards) is affected as a result of their condition and treatment. For this study, I was involved in daily cognitive assessments of patients in the MICU by performing a common test for delirium called the CAM-ICU (Confusion Assessment Method in the Intensive Care Unit). This was a really great learning experience because it taught me proper bedside manner and how to relate to patients who are critically ill.
On top of that, I spent time analyzing patient chest X-Rays, going on rounds in the MICU, watching procedures, attending lectures on Critical Care topics, and going to weekly lab meetings. I feel that through this research experience I was able to understand the fundamentals of clinical research, how important precise data is, and how my medical studies in school are critically related to clinical research and practice. This PURM experience will surely prove to be transformative as I go forward in pursuing research and a career in medicine in the future.